Poor childhood diet is a major risk factor for disease and obesity, and parents of pre-school children are in a powerful position to influence diet for life. The technique of thematic synthesis (Thomas & Harden, 2008) was used to synthesise recent qualitative research on parental feeding of pre-school age children (18 months – 6 years). The aim was to inform development of nutrition advice by gaining a comprehensive picture of parental feeding behaviours and motivations. Six key parental feeding behaviours were identified: modelling, rewards, pressure and encouragement, repeated exposure, creativity, and limiting intake. Four overarching themes regarding motivations were identified: promoting good health (balance and variety, and weight control); building positive relationships (child involvement, and parental engagement and responsiveness); practicalities and constraints (time, cost, and lack of culinary skill, and pressure and flexibility); and emotional motivations (problem avoidance, and emotional investment). Practicalities and constraints, and emotional motivations impacted more significantly on low income parents. In order to be effective, nutrition advice ought to tap into parents’ strong desire to build positive relationships and promote good health while remaining sensitive to the significant constraints and practicalities faced.